Did you catch it Chiefs fans? The instant in time when the cloak of darkness that has obscured this team's vision for this season was yanked away and the sun began to shine? The 2011 Chiefs have been laboring in the dark for long enough. Maybe, just maybe, we saw the bubble burst last Sunday in the form of heated words hurled at each other from Todd Haley and Matt Cassel. I for one, hope that whatever caused that exchange and the subsequent display of grittiness from this team was indeed a turning point in this season. If Matt and the rest of these Chiefs can use that spark to light a bigger fire, good things will happen.
Whatever eventually happens, it is clear that Haley is a master of this specific technique for motivation. He's employed it more than once in his coaching career, with pretty fair results. A fiery exchange with a player on the sidelines during a game seems to be one of the weapons in Haley's arsenal of getting the best out of his players. It worked last Sunday on Matt Cassel. Thank you, Todd Haley, for finally deeming it appropriate to use it on him. As with many things in life, timing is most important. The timing of this move might just have turned this season from disaster to respectability, with the possibility of even more. Now the hard work really begins...
If the Chiefs had gone 0-4 last Sunday with a loss, this season would most assuredly have taken a turn into turmoil. For that matter it still could, we're not exactly standing on the mountain top just yet. Not that going 0-3 hasn't garnered fan angst like it was 2008 all over again because the slow start this season certainly has done just that, but beating the Vikings in week four, has given these Chiefs the opportunity to reload and make a run at something. This team needed something tangible to build on and now they have it in the form of their first win of the season. It may not seem like much, but if they can indeed turn this year around by getting better every single week for the rest of the season, they have the opportunity to build on the respect that they achieved (from at least some fans anyway) last season with their six game turnaround. Thank goodness that we at least have the chance to discuss this, rather than finding ourselves in an 0-4 dungeon that would be hard to see any way out of. Had that happened, we would have had to endure the 'Suck for Luck' mantra for the rest of the season.
Instead, what we are faced with is a long, uphill journey that will likely define what these Chiefs are really made of. So many questions remain unanswered. Can the defense continue to improve it's run stuffing ability? Can Cassel overcome his own demons that are (or were) interfering with his ability to connect with those down field receivers? Did Haley just give Matt the spell to exorcise those demons? Can our run game find a way to succeed (maybe Jackie Battle is a more important piece of this puzzle than anyone thought)? Will Bill Muir realize that there really are passing plays in the playbook under the tab marked 'passing plays'? Will the success that the Chiefs had on Sunday in throwing the ball, change Todd Haley's mind on airing the ball out more often? It sure didn't sound too promising in Monday's press conference. Haley made mention of 'not taking too many risks' when asked about the passing game.
Speaking of the passing game, why did the Chiefs have to 'draw up a play on the sidelines' for Bowe's hitch-and-go that scored a TD? Matt Cassel said it was an adjustment made on the sidelines. He said his hat was off to the coaching staff for making the adjustment. What the hell? Isn't that what they are supposed to do? Is the game plan so damn rigid that telling a receiver to run past his coverage and catch a touchdown is called an adjustment? Holy guacamole Batman! Somebody needs a drink on that sideline--loosen up guys!!
Whatever it was, I am formally requesting more of the same for the Colts next Sunday--ok? Was this 'adjustment' a product of the Haley/Cassel dispute? If so, I want them both to spend the entire next week debating whatever it is that makes them feel good. Hell, I'll even buy them both white boards and markers so they can exchange ideas without having to talk to each other for the next week--whatever it takes. I'll bet if they look around the coaches office they'll find a bunch of markers left over from Herm's days--that man loved his crayons.
In the 'old' days, 'Dandy' Don Meredith used to sing his version of 'Turn Out The Lights, The Party's Over' from the Monday Night Football booth that he manned with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford when he felt like the game was firmly in hand for one team or the other. I don't think we have reached that point yet with the 2011 Kansas City Chiefs.
Next up is the Indianapolis Colts. Before the season began, many fans had penciled this in as a loss. With the absence of Mr. Football, this game suddenly looks very winnable. With the number of injuries that the Colts have continued to receive, it is beginning to look even more winnable. Curtis Painter had best be on Tamba Watch. Look out little buddy, the shark is in the water. Our run game needs to be competent in this one because that Colts defense loves to get after the passer. If the Chiefs can get a win in Indy (that would be a curse buster by the way) they get two weeks to prepare for the Oakland Raiders because of a bye week. It might be kinda nice to go into Oakland at 2-3 with a head of steam and something to prove. We let one get a way last year at Oakland. Hey Hue! It's almost time to pay the piper.
Branden Albert was reportedly begging for the team to run behind him in the Minnesota game, and the Chiefs averaged something like seven yards a carry behind BA last Sunday. Dwayne Bowe told the coach he would score if they threw him that pass versus the Vikings, and 52 yards later he did it. Andy Studebaker told the coach that Succop would make a 54 yard kick (the kid's career longest) so go ahead and let him kick it, and he made it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is how a championship team acts. EVERYBODY wants the responsibility of getting a win. They all want it and they are very vocal about it. I've seen this type of behavior before, up close and personal. It's how a winner conducts themselves. Haley really needs to take the shackles off right now. There is enough kinetic energy pent up in this team right now to blow a hole in something. Let's hope that something is called the Indianapolis Colts!
That Oakland game would be followed up with a home field contest with a team that could barely stay with us in their own stadium in sunny California, the Bolts. Phyllis is hurting and his targets are having a difficult time this season. Ryan Mathews is coming into his own, but is that enough to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead on a Monday Night Football game on All Hallows Day Eve? Kansas City has this weird thing about winning games on Halloween. More on that to come. So, tell me Chiefs fans, how would you feel entering the month of November at 4-3 with a team that is building it's mojo, only to play the Dolphins and the Broncos in successive weeks? Could the Chiefs make it halfway through November with a 6-3 record and a sign that says Playoffs or Bust? Calm down Aiken, you are getting too far ahead of yourself. After all, Todd Haley completely screwed the pooch with his focus on conditioning in training camp this year--right?
Maybe. Then again, maybe that 'plan' that was so wrong (according to many fans and our 1-3 W/L record right now), might just turn out to be 'a bit of alright' as they say in jolly old England. It's all good Todd. Keep chopping wood. Matt, pay attention because Haley has lighted the way so you can now see what needs to be done. LeRon and Wallace, I must ask a favor. Since you fellas know exactly how this season is going to play out, could ya give us a little tweet each week just so's we don't feel left out? Sure would appreciate it.
No sir. This season ain't over. Not by a long shot. Sorry 'bout that all you Suck For Luck folks. The reality of what it means to play football in the NFL may have just caused that 'shoot the moon' mentality to go set. Maybe you should spend your time figuring out how to rig a World Series or getting your favorite boxer to take a dive. At least you can bet on that.